Friday, December 14, 2007

Wladimir Balentien – Fantasy Baseball Minor League Sleepers, Part 2 of 5

Adam Jones has been considered the better Seattle outfield prospect but I’m not so sure – sometimes you just need to look at the numbers and forget about Jones’ pedigree and that many consider Wladimir Balentien “raw”. For starters he was named the Pacific Coast League rookie of the year – sounds pretty elite to me!

In 2006 Balentien hit 22 HRs with 14 SBs in 444 ABs and entered the season at 21 in AA. The downside is that he only hit .230 with 140 Ks – I guess that’s where the “raw” label comes in. Dating back to 2001 he’s always displayed 30 HR power projected over a 550-600 AB season with a high .290 BA and a useful number of steals.

At AAA in 2007 he cut the Ks down to 105 in 477 ABs and once again cracked .290 average – suggesting he learned something about hitting. PCL is widely considered a hitters league but the drop in Ks tells me he’s developing patience at the plate. Wladimir also hit 24 HRs and stole 15 bases.

I think he’ll get a shot in the bigs this year as he’ll turn 24 in July and has little else to prove in the minors. I would expect his average to struggling for a year or two while he adjusts but the 30 HR power isn’t going anywhere. Stolen bases are key when counting on rookies for fantasy contributions. Even if his power and other offensive numbers fall off sharply, 15 steals over the course of a full season makes him a useful player with very high value considering where you’d be able to pick him up. I’d expect something like a .250 BA, 25-30 HR and 12-18 steal type pace once he gets called with upside from there. Considering the fact that he should be available off the wire in most fantasy baseball leagues there could be some real value in 2008 with Wladimir Balentien.

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Johnny Cueto – Fantasy Baseball Minor League Sleepers, Part 1 of 5
Gio Gonzalez – Fantasy Baseball Minor League Sleepers, Part 3 of 5
Eric Patterson – Fantasy Baseball Minor League Sleepers, Part 4 of 5
Wade Davis – Fantasy Baseball Minor League Sleepers, Part 5 of 5

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